Rough Guide To Building a Travel Destination App for Mobile

 Rough Guide To Building a Travel Destination App for Mobile - Lemberg Solutions Blog

Ros Bulych, managing partner of Lemberg Mobile guest article on Tnooz.

Brochures, guides, maps and tons of other printed material could be done away with for good thanks to the new black in the world of mobile apps – destination applications. Apart for replacing the traditional printed matter, they help the visitors thoroughly explore a destination, provide them with useful info, help to navigate and share their experiences via social media.

Such apps are also an additional channel for promoting and monetising a destination, rather than product apps for hotels, car hire, airlines and other, core product services. Destination apps are springing up more and more. World-famous resorts, on the one hand, and smaller travel destinations like hotels, parks, museums, galleries, you name it, on the other – seem totally obsessed with having both virtual guides and mobile guides to offer to their visitors and customers.

However, destination apps for in particular indoor and outdoor environments are quite a market novelty. Therefore, there are no set procedures for selecting the right app type. Despite the relative concept novelty, a variety of top-notch technologies are at your disposal now:

  1. Plug and play solutions – easy-to-use and efficient tool which doesn’t require advanced technical skills.
  2. Platform-based customised app development – service based on by niche experience and technological groundwork.
  3. Custom mobile apps development service – developing apps from scratch: a flexible, but expensive and quite risky tactics.

The chief points of reference are the average cost of such solutions, delivery time, and broadly the pros and cons.

1. Plug-and-play solutions

These ones are a kind of ready-to-go solutions. They are easy to use without any additional help: you select what you need, as usual – register on the website, get an account, upload your content – and voila! The mobile app is created. You pay for a high-quality, polished product ready to distribute to your potential visitors around the world.

In case of P&P, everything (starting from the sign-up step and up to the application building part) is done automatically. But the building process must be conducted manually (normally, by the solution provider). App submission process requires additional effort, too: you should do it yourself or the provider will do it for you (it depends, there are different systems on the market).

There are a number of advantages to P&P:

  • the delivery time is short (typically 2-6 weeks)
  • the price scheme is convenient: it consists of a setup fee (paid once) and an annual fee (covers support, future updates and changes)
  • the price is reasonable (an average cost of $195 – $12,000 per year and a setup fee of $0 – $2,400)
  • multiplatform support

However, some drawbacks should be admitted, too:

  • limited branding capability: no room for design customisations (there will be a set of templates to choose from) and no possibility of adding any optional features
  • there may be difficulties in integration with your existing legacy system (accommodation, booking, e-commerce systems, your website content)

Top-rated suppliers of such take-and-go products are: MobileRoadie, My Tours, SwebApps.


2. Platform-based customised app development

For the most part, companies specialising in destination apps development have been at this for some time, and have created their own technological solution or platform. A proper background should allow them to offer a high-professional solution and efficiently use a variety of customisation tools.

Some other features of this option are:

  • the delivery time is longer: from 1 to 6 months
  • multiplatform development is offered
  • the payment method may differ: one time fee or a setup fee plus annual fee (optional)
  • flexible about integration with your legacy system(s)
  • CMS: you’ll be allowed to choose between a default CMS or the CMS which is integrated with your website (in which case there will be no need to upload the content twice and your mobile app and website assets will be synced).

Similar to the P&P approach, there are drawbacks. Typically good things cost money, so be prepared to stretch your budget (however, the price is not all that sky-high: ($2,500+ per year and $1,500+ for setup fee on average).

Experienced and leading suppliers of such custom development services are: AVAI Mobile Solutions, Chimani, Anymapps, Discover Anywhere Mobile, GuideOne, Lemberg Mobile, Nomad Mobile Guide, Packed2Go, Pixie Pins, Trailtap, Zonear.

3. Custom mobile App

Basically, this is something you can request at any mobile development company. If you go with this approach, be sure you will get full app customisation if you desire it, as well as flexibility of the solution, and last but not least, integration with your existing legacy system.

The points to watch out for are:

  • with companies that are first-timers with such solutions, lots of bugs and quality issues should be expected - consequently, more risks and less chance of meeting the project timeline - delivery and support process won’t run smooth either
  • high price is another drawback: this type of solution will often set you back $10,000 (per platform).


In the destination mobile app market, there is something new springing up literally every week. This is a good trend as it ensures the market evolves quickly and new technology and methods are constantly improving.

Out of the three options discussed above, all are well-grounded and we are not in favour of any of them. However, I’d say the second option particularly stands out, offering a possibility of both customisation and branding, and flexibility of the approach and feature set. And all this – at a reasonable cost.

For more information on developing applications with location tracking related functionality check out Location tracking applications page.